Skills you'll gain: Security Engineering, Information Technology, Cryptography, Cyberattacks, Network Security, Theoretical Computer Science, Computer Networking, Accounting, Algorithms, Computer Programming, Computer Programming Tools, Human Factors (Security), Security Strategy, Computer Architecture, Data Management, Databases, Microarchitecture, Operating Systems, SQL, Software Engineering, Software Security, Software Testing, Statistical Programming, System Security
Intermediate · Specialization · 3-6 Months
Public speaking is the act of communicating information verbally to a live audience. This is important in a wide variety of professional contexts; for example, a Powerpoint presentation of research findings to colleagues, a startup’s pitch to potential investors, and a politician’s speech to her constituents all use public speaking. Having verbal communication skills that can convincingly convey key insights and value propositions with clarity and confidence is an asset in many roles across many fields.
However, even experienced professionals may experience anxiety and stress in public speaking situations. For some, the experience of “stage fright” in front of an audience can cause them to forget important points in their speech or freeze up and be unable to speak entirely. For those that speak English as a second language, a lack of confidence can lead to stumbling over words or mumbling through a presentation.
Fortunately public speaking ability doesn’t have to be something that you either have or don’t - it’s a skill that can be learned like any other. By using proven techniques of organization and preparation, as well as frequent practice, anyone can improve their abilities in this area and benefit their career in the process.
Public speaking skills can be an asset to many professional careers. Whether you are an entrepreneur speaking to two venture capitalists, a manager presenting quarterly results to an audience of 20 employees, or a political leader addressing millions of people in a live televised speech, having confidence in this area will give you an edge.
This is particularly important for top executive roles, whether the chief executive officer (CEO) of a business or the mayor of a city, as those in these leadership positions must regularly use public speaking to inspire and motivate their organization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top executives in the private sector earn a median annual salary of $208,000, and top executives in government - e.g. mayors or governors - earn a median salary of $110,230.
Yes! Coursera offers many opportunities to help you develop public speaking and other communications skills, which can benefit you whether you’re a native English speaker or learning English - or business English - as a second language. You can take courses and Specializations in public speaking from top-ranked universities like the University of Washington, the University of California Irvine, Macquarie University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. And, even though you’ll learn remotely, the ability to watch live videos of lectures and attend virtual office hours with instructors will give you the opportunity to practice your public speaking skills so that you’re ready to use them in any business setting.
Because public speaking is a skill that everyone can benefit from learning, you don't need any special skills or experience under your belt before you start studying the subject. However, when it comes to public speaking, practice is always a good thing. So, any experience you have speaking in front of an audience, whether it's presenting a project in front of your high school English class or talking about a new concept at work, will help you prepare for any lessons or courses you take. Any other experience that led to you speaking or performing in front of a crowd can also be beneficial. Perhaps you participated in theater or even read stories aloud to children you babysat.
People who are comfortable being in front of an audience are best suited for roles in public speaking. You'll also need to be articulate. This means speaking loudly, clearly, and without using filler words like "um" between words and sentences. Good public speakers are engaging. They use their hands, bodies, and facial expressions to keep the audience energized and interested. Written communication skills are also an important part of a public speaking role. You may need to prepare a speech or PowerPoint presentation for your audience. Even if someone prepares your speech for you, you'll need to be able to read and comprehend it.
Learning public speaking is something that can benefit almost anyone in any career field. At some point in time, you may find yourself giving speeches or sharing information with colleagues, students, peers, supervisors, customers, clients, or anyone else you encounter at work. By learning public speaking, you'll likely gain the confidence to read that report, teach that lesson, or share your information without stumbling. Even if you don't work in a field that requires you to speak in front of a crowd, learning public speaking is a great confidence booster in general. If you feel uncomfortable in social situations or just want to be more outgoing, learning public speaking may help you break out of your shell.